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Chinese Millennials

By Michelle Ma, Managing Partner

Liu Shen, Beijing China

In response to our article “What Can We Learn From Millennials?” we received some very interesting feedback from Michelle Ma, managing partner, of Liu Shen, the largest and oldest Intellectual Property law firm in China. Here are her views on Chinese Millennials.

Hi Jeffrey and Liza,

The Millennials, as defined in the article, correspond more to post-90s in China. Here in China, post-80s are usually considered as being closer to post-70s, having a sense of nationalism and cultural self-identity, believing in hard work making for themselves a happy life. But beginning in the late 70s, most of them are the only child in the family due to China one-child policy.

Nowadays, that generation is bearing a heavy family burden, typically they are a young couple with four parents who are already, or who will soon be retired; one or two young children; and they may also still have their grandparents. Most of them are also the backbone workforce of the organization they are serving. And that is the situation in our firm with the post-80s contributing a big percentage of the firm’s billings.

Comparing with the older generations who are relatively conservative, post-70s and 80s are better educated with international views and are not afraid of challenges. They can be extremely devoted if they recognize the value of the work, and would be willing to spend long hours, and they can be very productive. On the other hand, they cannot easily submit themselves to the rule of leadership because they need to be convinced.

The post-90s and post-00s in China, as you have put it, many (not all) of them were raised with an abundance of material comforts. They were told they are special just for being who they are; and have come to believe that not only are they special but also that they are worthy of praise and rewards almost without regard to the effort they have expended or the level of success they achieve.

There are other major differences, such as, in my generation, we were told to “serve the country, serve the people, but for Generation Y, it is “serve in order to realize their own self-value.” They no longer believe they need to work hard to pursue success, they can be successful, or they have another definition for the term “successful.” They accept working very hard in order to complete a project, but not as a routine.

They think having a holiday (or an overseas holiday) at least once a year is natural. They do not hesitate at all to spend a week’s wages to dine at a luxurious restaurant with their girlfriend. They are wide-minded, sometimes bringing new ideas, effective solutions and pleasant surprises. However, they could immediately say “good-bye” if they think the environment is not helping them to realize their self-value, or they do not like the “company culture”.

As a post-60s person, I love to work with the post-80s and post 90s, they are inspiring!

Basically, I am grateful for having a group of excellent Millennials colleagues at Liu Shen, who are making Liu Shen an even greater firm.

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